Every June, in the United States, we celebrate the LGBTIQA+ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, asexual, et al.) with Pride Month. Throughout the month, you’ll often find parades, events, and rainbow-striped flags hung all around to honor the community and as a show of support. While taking part in celebrating Pride Month in any capacity is terrific, it’s also essential for employers and co-workers to use June as an opportunity to let the LGBTIQA+ community within the organization know that they are safe and supported in the workplace.
It’s estimated that the LGBTIQA+ community makes up around 4.5% of the US population (however, this is likely a low estimate), which comes out to more than 14 million people. Despite this massive number, this is a minority community that is often subjected to pushback, criticism, harassment, discrimination, and violence — both in daily life and in the workplace. It is why Pride Month is so important because it allows those within the LGBTIQA+ community to celebrate who they are and gives anyone who doesn’t identify as part of this group a chance to offer acceptance and love and to remind the individuals within the community that they are not alone.
The History of Pride Month
The first Pride march took place in June 1970 in New York City, one year after the Stonewall uprising on June 28, 1969 (a significant event and turning point for the LGBTIQA+ community). It’s estimated that between 3,000-5,000 participants showed up that day, and LGBTIQA+ activists continue to march in remembrance. In 2019, it’s estimated that around 5 million participants showed up to the NYC event (and this number does not include the participants who attended the many other marches/parades outside of NYC).
What was once a single day of Pride has since evolved into a month-long celebration. In 1999, president Bill Clinton officially declared June as Pride Month in the US.
Celebrating Pride Month in the Workplace
You will find pride celebrations throughout June, but most workplaces aren’t exactly known for hosting significant celebrations — no matter the type of celebration. Even so, organizations can (and should) still observe and acknowledge the event as a way to help LGBTIQA+ employees feel safe, valued, and supported. Some ways to do this include:
Officially announce the company’s observation of the month to every employee through some form of formal communication (it should go without saying that this goes beyond adding a rainbow to the company’s logo and or social media pages)
Donate to an LGBTIQA+ organization or offer employees a paid day off to volunteer their time somewhere that supports the community
Invite activists and speakers to share their stories and further educate all employees on ways to be an ally to the community
If there isn’t one already, establish an LGBTIQA+ focused ERG
Demonstrate transparency by releasing current diversity and inclusion data, and share actionable steps the company plans to make to improve in this area (if necessary)
Host a Pride party (scale it to whatever is appropriate and comparable to other workplace celebrations)
Decorate the office and encourage employees to follow suit
Offer inclusion training to all employees
Supporting the LGBTIQA+ Community at Work All Year Long
The month of June is an excellent reminder of how important it is to be an LGBTIQA+ ally, but support should extend into the other 11 months of a year, too. It’s not enough to hang a few flags and make a big show out of Pride for 30 days. Employers need to take steps to ensure they’re making the workplace a safe and welcoming place for employees (basically, actions speak louder than words).
Here are some ways to do this:
Create and enforce policies explicitly meant to protect the community from harassment and discrimination
Make DE&I a priority within the organization and make data available to employees
Swap out gendered language whenever possible (i.e.: “chestfeeding” rooms instead of “breastfeeding” rooms; “parental leave” instead of “maternity” or “paternity” leave)
Encourage all employees to display their pronouns, and have policies in place if co-workers refuse to respect preferred pronouns
Offer benefit options for same-sex partners/spouses
Include adoption assistance in benefits packages
Make your LGBTIQA+ support known to people outside the organization, especially job seekers who are looking for a supportive employer
Include representatives from the community in committees, leadership roles, and other high-impact positions
As an employee, it’s important to advocate for an LGBTIQA+ inclusive workplace, whether you’re part of the community or an ally. By prioritizing working for employers that explicitly show their support for the LGBTIQA+ community, you’re helping to create a labor shortage at companies that lack inclusion — and we’ve all seen how much positive change can happen as a result of labor shortages.
Join The Mom Project Community
If you’re working somewhere, that lacks inclusivity and ready to make a change, join The Mom Project community and look at the many opportunities available with vetted employers.